Thanksgiving Traditions

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Last year I posted quite a bit about our Advent and Christmas traditions but I just realized that I haven’t said anything about what we do for Thanksgiving.

I know there is a lot of discussion and debate about the fact that the Thanksgiving story we were all taught as children isn’t correct and what actually happened isn’t anywhere near as warm and fuzzy. I have thoughts on this but this isn’t the post for that.

The current reality is that our country DOES observe Thanksgiving and it is a wonderful opportunity to think about all the things in our lives we are grateful for! So this is how I view it. I also feel that observing a month of gratefulness as an excellent way to prepare our hearts for Advent. That said, I keep it very simple so we don’t end up exhausted before we even get to December.

Corn Kernel Thankfulness

Starting November 1st (yep this post is a bit late but there is no reason you can’t start now) I put a bowl of un-popped popcorn on the table along with a jar that I tie a pretty ribbon on.

I also put out our cornucopia which I plan to add to every year (except this one since I’m in the middle of a move and all my yarn is gone). But this isn’t part of my tradition just a fun decoration (you can find the pattern here).

Anyway back to the corn. Every evening at supper we go around the table and each say what we are thankful for. Everyone is allowed to say as many things as they would like. For each thing they list they put a kernel of corn in the jar.

I allow the younger kids to say the same things night after night. They are still learning the concept and my main goal is to instill a habit of expressing thanks and a heart full of gratitude so I don’t mind them repeating the same thanks every day. I do encourage the older kids to think of new items to be thankful for each day. I freely offer suggestions when I think it is needed.

In past years we have simply popped the corn (in my awesome whirley-pop!) on Thanksgiving so the more they have been thankful the more they get. But since we have popcorn on a regular basis already this isn’t all that motivating. Next year I think I’ll make caramel corn out of the corn in the jar-that should prompt LOTS of thankfulness!

Operation Christmas Child

OCC boxes

Another thing we usually do in mid to late November is participate in Operation Christmas Child shoebox collecting. The past few years we have been out of the US and not able to participate hands on (but we did build our boxes online). Next year we will be back to being able to participate more. Collection week is always the week before Thanksgiving week and we spend time during that week volunteering at our local collection or relay centers. There are also opportunities from Thanksgiving weekend through most of December at the Regional Processing Centers but sign up for those volunteer positions happens earlier in the year and fills up very quickly. Next year I will let you know before registration opens!

When we first started we took the kids to the store, grabbed a plastic shoebox and let them pick out items for a child their own age and gender to fill the shoebox (and hubby and I packed one each for a teenager). Now we collect items for our boxes all year. We also always include a note and a picture. I will post more early next year about collecting year-round or you can check out Clip With a Purpose, a blog dedicated to packing boxes on a budget throughout the year. If you are just now thinking about packing I suggest each family member packs one box for a child of their choice. You can find instructions and drop off locations at the OCC website.

Do you have other November/Thanksgiving traditions? Please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas!!

Make sure you subscribe to my blog (using the form on the right), I will share more about Operation Christmas Child next year and I am considering sharing my “secret family recipe” for the best stuffing ever-you won’t want to miss it!


  1. Thanks for addressing this. After Halloween I usually tend to just wrap myself around getting ready for Christmas. These are great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for visiting!! Honestly, Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday but I like the opportunity to focus on gratitude and prepare my heart for Christmas!

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